Youth Culture Lesson Finding Teachable Moments in Culture From YouthWorker Journal and YouthWorker.com Affluenza Fail Mistakes and What Happens When We Don’t Learn from Them By Paul Asay
What Happened People trying to outrun the long arm of the American law often run south, to Mexico, specifically. It’s not so normal to try to run away from probation, particularly when most people think you were lucky to get that. Yet that’s just what 18-year-old Ethan Couch did.
What Happened Couch came to fame in 2013 as the “Affluenza Teen.” In June of that year, Couch was speeding, driving drunk and driving on a suspended license when his SUV plowed into a group of people, killing four of them and injuring nine others. In court, Couch’s lawyers argued that he didn’t deserve jail time because his affluent upbringing and negligent parents never taught him the difference between right and wrong.
What Happened The jury apparently bought the argument, and Couch was sentenced to 10 years probation, and he was told to stay away from drugs and alcohol.
What Happened Late in 2015, a video surfaced of Couch playing beer pong with friends. Shortly thereafter, Couch failed to show up for a meeting with his parole officer, and he and his mother were reported missing. It was later revealed that Couch’s mom, Tonya Couch, had withdrawn $30,000 from the family bank account and left a note for her husband, saying that he’d never see either of them again.
What Happened On Dec. 28, the pair was found in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico—Couch apparently trying to disguise himself by dying his hair and beard.
Talk About It Lawyers argued that Couch never really understood morality: He essentially learned, through a combination of his comfy upbringing and how his parents raised him, that the only real morality was money. • Do you think being rich can make you less moral? Why or why not? • Regardless of whether Couch’s parents taught him much about morality, should he still be responsible for learning it himself?
Talk About It • How have you learned the difference between right and wrong? • What have your parents taught you about being a good person? • What about your teachers? • Your pastors and youth leaders? • Have there been times when your own moral compass has gone a little off-kilter? When, why and how?
Talk About It Although most of us haven’t gotten ourselves into the same level of trouble that Couch did in 2013, we all do make mistakes. Sometimes, we’re given second chances in the hope that we’ve learned from our mistakes. • What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned from a mistake you made? • When were you given a second chance? • How did you use that second chance?
What the Bible Says “And He said, ‘What comes out of a person is what defiles him. For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person’” (Mark 7:20-23).
What the Bible Says “When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with the humble is wisdom” (Prov. 11:2). “For the righteous falls seven times and rise again, but the wicked stumble in times of calamity” (Prov. 24:16).
What the Bible Says “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).